Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheap as chips Christmas wreath

This project may or may not be cheap depending on how you go about it, but for me it cost me nix as I had all the materials on hand (thank you ever increasing stash!).

The criteria for our Christmas craft projects this year is that it has to makeable with the materials I have on hand, and suitable for Miss C to pitch in.

And this scrappy Christmas wreath fit the bill. I found the original idea here and thought this would be perfect for us, no gluing or stapling or fiddly bits and as Miss C has just mastered knots it was a great opportunity for her to practice!
Here is how we did it.

1. Make a wire circle. I used millinery wire (the stuff that is covered in paper) as I had some lying around but any wire would be fine. Mine measured roughly 11 inches in diameter.
2. Cut strips of polyester wadding or any other thickish material and wind it around the wire circle to pad it out.
3. You could of course skip the above and buy a ready made foam wreath or something similar but I am not brave enough to enter the Christmas craft den of our local store at this time of year.
4. Cut strips of fabric (mine were about 12 inches x 1 ½ inches). No need to be too perfect about it. Some can be a bit longer or thinner depending on what scraps you have on hand.

5. Start tying the strips onto the wire circle. I started with all my red fabrics as I wanted mostly red in the design, then neutrals and then a small amount of greens.

6. Keep tying strips until the wadding is completely covered. I just did this pretty randomly, making sure the knots were placed at different points on the circle.
7. Trim any long stray bits if you need to.
8. Add a bow and a ribbon for hanging and you’re done!

So now the tree is up, the wreath is done and I have a whole two weeks to squeeze in some other projects!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brief respite

We have actually had a few moments of sunshine in amongst the rain over the last few days, so at least we have been able to get out of the house which has lifted my mood considerably!

And I even had a chance to sort through the stash, and despite having never actually bought any Christmassy themed fabric, managed to come up with quite a nice little coordinating bunch of red and green prints.

So this blog will probably lean toward Christmas crafts over the next few weeks, and while I am not usually a craft kind of person there may even be a tutorial or two!

Well that depends on whether anything I make in the next few weeks actually resembles anything worth bragging about!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tis the season to be an old cranky pants

It is supposedly the second day of summer here and we have had nothing but rain – as in 4 inches in the last two days, which has put me in a decidedly grinch like mood.

Plus the whole household has come down with a nasty cold. So we have been stuck inside, filling the house with used tissues and half hearted craft projects and basically mooching around feeling sorry for ourselves.

The house is a mess, it’s starting to smell from being closed up and there doesn’t look like there is any end in sight.

What is usually great about having Christmas in summer; late afternoon barbeques, street festivals and lazing around on the verandah drinking beer and talking about the cricket doesn’t look like it will happen this year.

Bah humbug I think the phrase is.

And I have to make a whole load of Christmas presents. And decorations. And we don’t even know where we will be come Christmas day.

And I know lots of people have it far worse than us. Which makes me feel even worse about feeling so grumpy.

So if you happen to have any spare Christmas cheer at your place feel free to send some my way!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Muu muu averted

Thanks to Beangirl’s suggestion to take in the side seams, I think that I have managed to sidestep a muu muu disaster!

Here is the finished dress from last weeks post.

New Look 6698

I cut a size 14, and ended up taking in the side seams by about ½” .
The pattern is super easy with no shoulder seams, a centre back seam, skirt gathered onto the bodice, and machine stitched hems.

This is actually the first New Look pattern that I have ever made and it went together pretty well.

The main thing for me though is the *ahem* bust point. There is a big difference between a 20 year olds bust point and a nearly 40 year olds. As in mine is closer to my waist than my shoulder!

Evidence of 20 odd years of gravity on the human body.

So the empire line isn’t technically an empire line on me, and the seam actually sits over my bust rather than under.

So I chose not to put elastic all around the empire seam as the pattern does, and just stitched elastic on the back. Which makes the back fit quite nicely.

Proof that everything looks better with a denim jacket.

Makes me think now that I need to keep sewing dresses to find out what suits me.

And Alisa, I think that you will probably be seeing this little number quite a bit at the Kandos Pool over summer!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Muu muu anyone?

In my hasty desperation to sew something for myself after months of sewing kids clothes, I am afraid that I have made The Wrong Dress.

This is New Look 6698 in a cotton muslin with an embroidered border.

I think I was seduced by the *easy tag on the envelope, and the fact that we are starting to get hot days and the idea of jeans is no longer appealing.

But there are some things I know about clothing that should never be overlooked!

1. I am not blonde, tall or waif like.
2. Empire line styles make me look like a cartoon character from Ancient Greece (and not one of the pretty ones).
3. Dresses are not in my vocabulary. I have not worn a dress since I was pregnant with Miss C (like 4 years ago) and that was only because I couldn’t turn up to work in my pyjamas.

I only have the side seams and hem to do, so I may as well finish it and see if it can be saved with some suave maybe wearing a full length trench coat over the top!

Or if all else fails it might just suffice as a nightie. Which is something I haven’t worn since I was 7.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The bees knees

I was going to call these the Prison Break leggings, but considering the target market thought better of it!

These were a lot of fun to make and it was a great project for Miss C to get involved with.

The leggings are a basic elastic waist legging made up in a nice soft cotton elastane and we made the stripe using my favourite art material, masking tape!
We just placed strips of tape across the fabric (it helps if you stretch the fabric slightly before taping so that the print will stretch with the fabric on the body) and then used a cheap foam roller to roll the paint onto the fabric. No need to be precise as the tape acts as a mask, so when you rip it off you have nice clear stripes.

I like how the paint took to the fabric in a slightly random way, giving a textured effect.

These are in the shop now!

If you are interested, I used Permaset fabric paint for the stripe. I used to use this stuff all the time when I did a lot of screen printing and the formula now is fantastic, kid friendly, non toxic and once it has been heat set you can bung it in the wash without fear of it running or fading.

I know that you can get textile mediums that claim to make any paint suitable for fabric, but personally I don’t trust them. Permaset is definitely the best that I have tried. It is quite thick but you can water it down to create wash like effects which can be quite nice.

I am really keen to do more pieces like this, we had a great time!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

And the winner......

.... of a brand new handmade garment by moi is.......Melinda!

Congratulations Melinda! Just email me your details and which garment you would like to receive and it will be winging its way over to you in no time!

Thank you everyone who commented. It was so great to get some feedback on the things I have been making. I have already made a few sales so am feeling very chipper about the whole endeavour at the moment.

And here is a sneaky peek at our next project. Just don’t mention child labour laws.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The big reveal.....and a giveaway!

I am finally in business!!!!

Here are (most) of the pieces from my Spring/Summer 2010 range for girls.

The fabrics are all cotton; voiles and chambray, with some vintage trims thrown into the mix.

I still have some styles to update my Etsy shop but should have them all up in the next couple of days.

And to celebrate I am having a true blue giveaway!

The winner of the giveaway will be able to select their choice of any garment from the range in the size of their choice. And I am willing to post anywhere in the world! For nix!

So pop on over to my shop, have a goosey gander, come back and leave a comment to be in the running.

Followers will also get a bonus entry, but comments must be posted by midnight Sunday 7th November (my time, as in Eastern Standard Daylight Savings time in Australia, whatever that may be in your neck of the woods!).

And just for fun, here are some outtakes from the photo shoots (where Miss C had horror head colds both times!!!).

Knock Knock! Its Goldilocks, let me in! Darn those bears locking the door!

Tissue please!

Luckily Auntie Gail was on hand to be chief hand holder and nose wiper!

I thought I made myself clear last time, no cake = no posing!

Now I am going to make something for MYSELF!
For some strange reason I have a hankering for jersey pants.
Which may or may not be a good idea!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The surly guide to french seams

I’ve never really liked doing french seams. I know that they look nice but the idea of having to sew a seam more than once annoys me (I know that yes that is what you are technically doing when you overlock the seam but there isn’t all that messing around with pressing and turning in between).

But some of the cotton voiles that I am using for my range simply had to be french seamed. They are too lightweight for overlocking, they are also slightly sheer so the overlocking could be seen through the fabric and I want all the garments to be machine washable so french seams were my only option.

The thing that has always bugged me the most about french seams are the little whiskers that sometimes stick out on the right side. You know when the fabric has frayed a bit before sewing.

Well today I had a light bulb moment about how to avoid the pesky whiskers without laboriously trimming them back when sewing.
The trick is to manipulate the needle position when sewing.

So on the first run, with wrong sides of the fabric together, I lined up the seam to half the final seam allowance (I am using ½ inch s.a so my first s.a guide is ¼ inch) and then move the needle position one click toward the cut edge.

Sew the seam, press flat and turn garment so that right sides are now facing.
Line up the seam at ¼ inch s.a again and then move needle position one click toward the garment (ie the opposite to what you did in the first run) and sew the seam.

Ta da! Perfect french seams with no whiskers!

So essentially you are sewing the first run with a slightly smaller s.a and the second run with a slightly larger s.a which makes sure all the fabric is neatly enclosed. And because you move the needle and use the same s.a guide it is pretty accurate.

Now of course lots of people have probably been doing this for ages but I was pretty chuffed with myself after sewing up 8 tops today and not having one whisker poking through!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reliving a misspent youth

I think that I can vaguely recall about a fortnight in 1994 when I can actually lay claim to having lived a misspent youth – I am generally a well behaved, play by the rules kind of girl, but for one summer I had the (mis)fortune of living across the road from a 24 hour pub and well you don’t need to be a genius to figure out what went on that summer.

So what has triggered memories of my dim, dark, distant past you may ask?

Well today it SNOWED. In Australia. In October.


This time last year we were enacting our fire evacuation plan because of bushfire threats.

So today we battened down the hatches and had a bit of a boogie.

And a quick search through YouTube brought up these clips from my glory days of the Summer of 1994.

Probably not entirely appropriate for a three and bit year old but a nice change from the Wiggles.

What was the soundtrack to your misspent youth?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The samples are done, patterns tweaked and the production line has begun!

I have ended up with 4 styles, a skirt, tank top, smock and dress.
I wasn’t really looking forward to the production line sewing but am actually really enjoying it.
It has made me up my quality control, especially in the cutting and prep stage, and doing one technique (like applying binding to a neckline) repeatedly is great for perfecting my skills.
All to do now is set up shop online and reveal all!
I am setting up an Etsy shop but have to confess that I am a bit daunted by the enormity of it all – don’t suppose any experienced Etsians can offer some advice?!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ya gotta start somewhere

This weeks op shop trawl threw up this little gem......I actually bought it for the pattern, cute retro Chloe boxy style jacket that could be interesting for this season, and it wasn’t until I got it home that I recognised the model.....

Linda Evangelista....... “I don’t get out of bed for less than $100 a day”

I’m going to stick it above my sewing machine.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Spring has well and truly sprung here, and while this is good in so many ways (as in no more lugging firewood through the house and a bountiful vegie patch), the constant sunshine is seriously cramping my sewing time.

I haven’t even had time to work through some of the fantastic suggestions that were made for fixing my doily top! Thank you to everyone who commented, I am leaning toward appliqué, but since I haven’t done anything like this since high school, the results may be a little wonky.

But then again wonky can be charming. Sometimes. Usually by other people.

So to avoid any applique disasters today, Miss C and I went shopping and discovered that the very last general store in our town is closing down. In two weeks.
This store is the only place in town to get notions and fabric, and the next closest is 100 km away, so I figured that I had better stock up while the doors were still open.

The great thing about this store was the stock. I am sure most of it was purchased in 1967.

I got the last 3 metres of a cotton spotted seersucker, some hot pink ric rac trim, assorted coloured thread and Miss C was let loose in the button department.

Check out the small print....Made in Japan!

We are going back tomorrow.
After I hit up The Bloke for more cash.
Now I really have to sell some garments!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reject #1

After a lot of chasing Miss C around in the futile hope of getting her to stand still long enough for fittings, I have managed to produce one garment.

A nice little tank top in a woven chambray.

The fit is great.

It is nice and loose with plenty of room for movement and I am happy with the construction standard so far.

But the doily is a bit how’s your father.

This top needs a trim but I am just not a doily kind of girl.

Funnily enough I am more interested in the inside of the top. The stitching line has created a nice shape that I think has more potential than a bit of nanna’s crochet.

So the pattern is a keeper but this one still needs some work I am afraid.
May try it in one of my printed voiles and see what happens.
At this rate my garments will be selling for Summer 2011 instead of 2010!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I have been forging ahead on the sew for money plan this week.

Lots of designing and playing around with fabrics and trims.

I have narrowed the range down to 5 items. I reckon that will be manageable. I have also aimed for the garments to be very simple pieces with minimal notions and trims, that way the only money I will have to spend will be on the odd reel of thread.

So I have
1. Woven tank top
2. Woven smock top
3. Dress
4. Skirt
5. Shorts

Now I just have to refine the details and draft a bodice block to get started.

I also spent some time reading the very excellent How to start a homebased handmade sewing business series at Fashion Incubator as well.

I am putting off doing the business stuff, costing sheets and the like until I have the prototypes sewn. No point in doing the boring work if the designs are a flop!

Our first Christmas fair is on the 4th November. I’ve booked a stall. That’s less than 2 months. I can sew one top a day. And I don’t sew on weekends.

I may have to call in reinforcements!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I’ve got 12 months.....

Erm.......I hope I haven’t misled you with that title!

What I mean is that I have just over 12 months before I have to go back to a day job.

Unless I can figure out a way to earn money at home that is.

Before I had kids I had never imagined that I would be a stay at home mum. I expected that I would be back at full time work after a year and life would be as it was. That’s not how it panned out though. And darn it I have gotten used to sewing and mucking around with the kid every day.


I have a plan.

And while I always swore that I would never sew for money (and despite being employed in the fashion industry for 12 years, I never actually had to design or patternmake on a regular basis, I just used to tell others how to do it!) that seems to be my only option.

And while I know all the pitfalls about trying to sell homemade garments and am hopelessly out of sync with the industry buying timeframes I am going to forge ahead regardless.

This is my fabric palette for a second summer range for girls aged 2-5years or thereabouts.

I figure that I have enough fabric to quickly make up some simple styles in time for all of our Christmas fairs and markets in November. Then, if I get a good reaction develop a first winter range for the shops.

The plus: it’s all from the stash so technically I don’t have to actually spend any cash to start production, just my time.

The minus: no more sewing for me.

I will need to draft some basic blocks from scratch to make the patterns but I do have a (sometimes) willing fit model so that shouldn’t take too long.

What could go wrong?

I might not sell anything. In which case Miss C will have a larger than average summer wardrobe.

Or, I sell everything and I have a real business on my hands.

Perhaps that is what I am really afraid of.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I promise....

...that this will be the last post re Miss C’s wardrobe.

Here is a pic with all the pieces together.

I haven’t posted info about 2 of the pieces on this blog, but to save some time and my sanity, if you are interested, the Review of the navy animal print tunic is here, and the Review of the harem pant is here.


And of course Miss C had to ‘help’ with the photo shoot!

Time for some ballet practice Mum!

Run run as fast as you can......

Oh, and if you are a Pattern Review member you can go ahead and vote for me. Go on, I know you want to!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm done!

I have just managed to complete the last of the 10 garments for the Wardrobe Contest, and managed to squeeze in a photo shoot in between downpours this morning hooray!

Here is the Burda peacoat, which is the topper for the wardrobe (worn over the flounce dress which I blogged about here).

The pattern
I traced a size 98, and only changed the pockets from welt pockets to patch pockets. The great thing about this pattern is the lining pieces are included as well so I didn’t need to do anything except trace. I added ½ inch seam allowance to all seams. I usually add ¼ inch to things like collars and facings but as I wasn’t going to muck around with a toile I thought the extra s.a might be handy. And added 1 inch to hems.

The fabric
Black cotton chambray, with a cotton print lining. Luckily I realised the print was in one direction and managed to cut it out properly. The buttons were reclaimed fromm a cardi that was on the way to the scrap bin. I underlined the lining with a very lightweight vintage wool for extra warmth.

The verdict
I am really glad that I made this coat instead of the trench that I was planning. It has a great shape and the best thing is that the raglan sleeves are quite roomy. I have bought a few RTW jackets that Miss C has hardly worn as the sleeves are too narrow to fit over chunky woollen knits.
It is not a quick project though, essentially it is a fully lined, bagged jacket so quite time consuming to make, especially with all that topstitching, but it will be great for the last months of winter and hopefully next year as well.

Weird fact: Burda kids patterns have freakishly long sleeves, every pattern I have had to chop quite a bit of the sleeve but not the length,maybe they think kids arms grow before the rest of them?

Some more pics....just because

Hey was this big! was this big!

Wonder what time the bus gets here?


That's it....I'm walking home. Put my cheque in the mail.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Button plackets won't kill you......

Sewing is underway on the peacoat...but in the meantime I am playing catch up with posting the other garments that are finished.

This is outfit number 3 for Miss C’s wardrobe.....a cotton voile top from Burda WOF March 2009 and a chambray version of the vintage skirt.

I'm a mod I'm a mod...yeah, yeah yeah!

I don’t know why I have put off doing button plackets; I had forgotten how easy they are to do. But Burda’s instructions are a bit bamboozling, for one thing they very rarely say vital info like put right sides of fabric together, or place wrong side of fabric to right side of garment, and I haven’t felt like trawling the net or going through all my old sewing notes to find out how to do it.

But then I discovered Burda had more detailed instructions (with pictures!) in the January 2009 issue (for a grown ups top but the theory is the same). So that made it easier.

The pattern
I cut a size 98 and didn’t do any alterations to the design or pattern. The top fits Miss C perfectly, which means tomorrow it won’t, so if I make it again I will go up a size.

The fabric
Cotton voile print (which I used for this top, just have to remember not to wear them at the same time!), with a watermelon cotton print for the placket and bias binding. Plus buttons from the stash.

The sewing
Once the button placket is done there is nothing tricky here. I did french seams as the voile is quite fine, and I used a bias binding for the sleeve hem rather than a topstitched hem.

I also changed the button placement as Burda had a button and buttonhole placed on the bias band and my buttons were too large for the width of the band. I have a feeling that sewing a button and buttonhole on that skinny band would be nigh on impossible anyhoo.

The verdict
I love this top! It is easy to sew and a great fit. There is way too much ease in the shoulder though so I will get rid of some of that when I sew it again. I like the idea of long sleeve cotton tops for summer, less chance of sunburn and a lot cooler to wear than singlet tops or t-shirts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Drum roll.........

I have made a decision! Thank you to everyone who posted a comment on my trench coat dilemma. I have managed to merge everyone’s suggestions into a solution (I think).

I am going to hold off on the trench coat and save it for when she is a bit bigger and will, fingers crossed, get a couple of years wear out of it. And I have replaced it with this peacoat from Burda’s January 2009 issue.

I like the slightly flared shape, which I think will sit nicely over the fuller, flared tops in the wardrobe and I think that this style is probably a bit more appropriate for a little’un!

So the plan is to use the last bit of my black chambray, line with the animal print and use my wool fabric to underline the lining (the Burda instructions suggest a quilted lining but I figure underlining the lining will do the trick).

And by the by, I just discovered the 3.1 Phillip Lim collection for kids via Bloesem Kids.
I would even like to wear some of those outfits myself!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Need some help here.....

So I have managed to complete 9 out of the 10 garments required for the Wardrobe Contest, yay for me! And as soon as The Wriggler decides to cooperate I will photograph and review the last couple of ones. But all in good time.

This now leaves me a whole month for The Big Project.

The Contest requires 1 garment to be a topper, that is, it can be worn over the other garments.

I pinned the whole theme of the wardrobe around the fact that I was going to do this trench coat from Burda.

But now I’m having second thoughts.

For one thing, it is freezing cold at the moment and Miss C actually needs a warm coat, for another the smallest size is 104, which means it won’t fit her until at least next year, and I am so used to doing quick projects that the idea of having to concentrate on a detailed project is a bit daunting. And the final thing niggling away at me is the question of whether a trench coat for a 3 year old is just too much! Sure they look great on cool kids on the streets of Tokyo or New York, but we live in the Town That Worships at the Alter of Polar Fleece.

I could line the jacket with a lightweight cream wool to up the warmth factor, but I was wanting to use this cotton print for the lining (the outer fabric will be black chambray with white topstitching).

Or I could just ditch the whole project and make a sensible warm winter coat out of some wool scraps I have hanging around.

What do you reckon, discerning blogland souls that you are?! Should I stick with the plan and spend a month making something that may not even get worn, or should I jump ship now and move onto a different project?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Woops a daisy......

I forgot to include the details of the shorts from yesterdays post!
And because I don't believe in saying things twice (Miss C are you listening to me, I'm not going to say it again, are you listening to me!) I'll just do a copy and paste from the review at Pattern Review.

Pattern Description: Burda magazine called these shorts bloomers but if I said that to my daughter no way would she wear them! I'm calling them the puffy shorts instead.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a size 98 for my 3.5 year old and there is plenty of room, if anything they are a little on the big side.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, except for a few minor alterations.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I don't usually bother with trying to follow Burda's instructions, but there are a lot of tricky details in this pattern so I think it is best suited to sewers with some experience. I hadn't sewn bluff pockets before so I documented the steps here for reference.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I liked the interesting details, oversized gathered pockets and the ties at the cuff.
I didn't like the fly front detail. The shorts have an elastic back waistband so I didn't see the point in putting in a fly front as well. The front pockets are quite large and there isn't much room to squish another detail on the front so I just left it out. I also didn't like the curved waistband. This also seemed unnecessary, a three year old doesn't have much shaping around the waist and hip, a flat waistband would have been better, this would have reduced the number of pattern pieces and the elastic at the back would work better in a flat band.

Fabric Used:
Black cotton chambray.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
The only changes to the pattern were to leave off the fly front, no other design changes.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes I will sew it again, they are very comfy and my daughter loves them. I may have a go at changing the curved waistband to a flat band, but then again I may not!

Very cute shorts that have some challenging features. These are not a quick project though, they took longer to sew than a pair of grown up pants! Also not recommended for the playground, those ties could cause some trouble!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's raining, it's pouring.....

.....and we are outta cake.

So Miss C was allowed to stand on a chair for these pics and that is something she is Not Allowed To Do. As a result I have some nice pics but have set a precedent for mucking about on chairs which is not a good thing.

Hmmm...Mum really should pay more attention to dusting these windowsills

Here is the next garment for Miss C’s wardrobe.

It’s another vintage pattern, this time courtesy of my sister whose pattern and fabric stash puts mine to shame.

I made the short version with pockets and didn’t change anything except for the back fastening.

The pattern
The pattern called for a zip down the centre back and there is no way I am putting a zip into a garment that will get worn for 6-12 months, so I just put in a button and loop (it has to be a pink button Mum, not cream!) at CB neck and cut the back skirt on the fold.

Wonder if this curtain can support 13 kilos....hang on that ric rac trim is matched perfectly at the side seam!

The fabric
A bit of cream corduroy left over from the vintage skirt and some cream and black brushed cotton, both from the opshop at some point. Plus some vintage black ric rac trim.
At a grand total of about $2.50.

There's gotta be a door in here somewhere!

The verdict
Miss C loves this top. It is a great shape and fit, and reminds me a little of the lovely Oliver and S ice cream dress so I am very happy that this one worked out. It has only one size (size 4) so I think I will make a dozen or so versions for summer in some nice breezy prints.

Trouble is Miss C thinks that ALL the drawings on the pattern envelope can be made up. She has requested/demanded that I make a pair of the orange shoes next. Not sure how I am going to tackle that one. I have got a bit of orange leather hanging around somewhere though! But maybe I shouldn’t tell her that.